Whenever an aircraft is destined to return to the base airport, it has to do so with or without passengers.

If the aircraft is nearly or completely empty with plenty of room for potential passengers to ride on, then it’s called an empty leg. The term is the opposite of ‘full leg’ where the aircraft is usually full to capacity at the time of takeoff. 

The concept of empty-leg not only applies to the public or the commercial sector, but also to the private and charter jet category. This post will showcase some of the basic aspects of these flights, benefits of empty leg trips, and limitations *(if/any) to help you understand whether these flights can be value for money.

Let’s get started.

What are Empty Leg Flights?

Empty leg flight, also known as empty sectors or deadhead flights, refer to flights where an aircraft is flying without passengers or cargo on board

These flights occur when an aircraft needs to reposition itself to a different location for various reasons, such as picking up passengers at a different airport, returning to its home base, or undergoing maintenance.

Empty Leg Flights Occur During These Scenarios

One-Way Charter/ Empty Leg Jet

When an aircraft is chartered for a one-way trip *(empty leg private jet), it needs to return to its original location to pick up its next set of passengers. 

The flight from the drop-off location to the pick-up location is considered an empty leg.


Aircraft may need to be relocated to meet operational demands or client requests. For example, after dropping off passengers at one airport, the aircraft may need to fly back to its based at home or a different airport to be ready for the next scheduled flight.

Maintenance or Repair

If an aircraft requires maintenance or repair work that cannot be conducted at its current location, it may need to fly to a maintenance facility or hangar. 

  • The flight to the maintenance facility without passengers or cargo is considered an empty leg.

Pilot or Crew Reassignment: Sometimes, pilots or crew members need to be repositioned to a different location to meet their duty schedules or to operate a different flight. 

  • The flight to reposition the crew without passengers is an empty leg.

These flights offer potential opportunities for cost savings and discounted private jet travel. Charter companies or operators often sell these empty-leg flights at reduced prices to recoup some of the operating costs. 

Passengers who are flexible with their travel plans can take advantage of these flights and enjoy private empty legs flights at a lower cost compared to traditional charter rates.

However, it's important to note that these flights are subject to availability and can be more unpredictable than regular scheduled flights. 

The timing and availability of these flights are typically dependent on the operational needs of the aircraft and may not always align perfectly with individual travel plans.

Are There Any Limitations To An Empty Leg Trip?

While the idea of booking a flight on an empty leg trip may seem great value for money, there can be certain disadvantages of an empty legs flights.

Limited Availability

Private empty leg flights are dependent on the specific repositioning needs of the aircraft. 

As a result, the availability of these trips can be unpredictable and may not always align with your desired travel dates, times, or destinations. It's important to be flexible with your travel plans to take advantage of these opportunities.

Fixed Routing 

These private jet flights typically follow a predetermined routing based on the aircraft's repositioning needs. This means that you might not have much flexibility in choosing the departure or arrival airports, as these are determined by the aircraft's operational requirements. 

The routing may not always align perfectly with your preferred itinerary.

Short Notice On Empty Leg Private Jet Flights

They often become available promptly. They are typically offered when a charter booking has been completed and the aircraft needs to reposition itself. 

As a result, you may need to be ready to travel at short notice, which may not be suitable for everyone.

Limited Customization 

An empty leg trip generally has limited room for customization compared to traditional charter flights. 

Since the flights are primarily intended to reposition the aircraft, there may be restrictions on additional services, catering options, or other customizations that are available on regular charter flights.


These flights are typically offered at discounted rates to fill the empty leg segment. 

However, these flights are often non-refundable. It's important to understand the terms and conditions associated with the specific trip you are considering to avoid any misunderstandings or unexpected costs.

Schedule Changes or Cancellations

Private empty leg flights depend generally has limited room for customization compared to traditional charter flights. 

Factors such as weather conditions, maintenance requirements, or operational demands may necessitate changes to the flights. It's important to be prepared for such possibilities and have contingency plans in place.

When considering an empty leg trip, it's advisable to work with a reputable charter company or operator who can provide you with accurate and up-to-date information on available options, terms and conditions, and any limitations associated with certain flights.

How To Book Empty Leg Flights

Wondering how to book empty-leg flights?

Here’s how to book empty-leg flights.

Various avenues can be employed to locate and reserve empty-leg flights.

1. Private Jet Operators

It is recommended to visit the operator’s website or directly communicate with them to know about the availability of empty-leg flights.

When it comes to private jets, the operators present the option of empty-leg flights through their official websites or via their sales representatives. 

2. Online Marketplaces

Many platforms like SOAR, PrivateFly, JetSmarter, and Victor help connect travelers with opportunities allowing for direct online booking. 

Numerous online marketplaces are dedicated to facilitating the sale of empty-leg flights. 

3. Private Jet Brokers

One effective method to locate and secure empty-leg flights is to engage private jet brokers who would help align the flights with your travel requirements. 

These brokers overlook a wide variety of private jets and can help negotiate the best rates for you, making sure it is a worthwhile traveling experience for you.

4. Social Media

Brokers and private jet operators often share information regarding available empty-leg flights on their social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. 

If you want real-time updates on the available flights, one way is to keep a tab on their social media handles. 

Factors that may not align with your specific travel needs when it comes to booking an empty-leg flight include flight schedules and routes. 

The reason behind this is that these flights are usually scheduled to accommodate the repositioning needs of the aircraft rather than prioritizing passenger convenience. 

Before booking, it is important to carefully review any potential restrictions or additional fees that may be applicable. 

Now that you know how to book empty-leg flights, you are better equipped to make the decisions accordingly. 

Tips To Get The Best Empty-Leg Charter Flights

Here are a few tips to get the best empty-leg charter flights:

1. Flexibility

When it comes to selecting the best empty-leg charter flights, flexibility is one of the key factors to consider. 

Flexibility here means choosing between several flight dates and destinations as it would provide you with more room to negotiate.

The higher the flexibility, the higher your chances of getting empty-leg charter flights at discounted rates. 

2. Preplan

When you are planning to get an empty-leg charter flight, one tip is to keep an eye out for travel dates that are popular considering the destinations you want to visit. 

With some pre-planning and earling books, you can get the best deals out there.

3. Keep An Eye On Online Marketplaces

If you are looking for the best deals on empty-leg charter flights, it is recommended to sign up at different online marketplaces that would notify you with alerts through which you will receive timely information about new listings.

4. Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

If you are booking an empty-leg charter flight through a broker, make sure to negotiate to the best of your abilities and the brokers will then be able to negotiate on your behalf and get you the best discounted rates. 

Safety Considerations With Dead Leg Private Jet Charter

Flying on a dead-leg private jet charter is considered to be safe as compared to other options but there are some other important considerations to be on the safe side.

1. Maintenance Of The Aircraft

Before opting for a dead-leg private jet charter, make sure to check the aircraft’s history in terms of its maintenance and safety certifications. 

2. Conditions Of The Weather

It is no secret that a dead-leg private jet can be influenced by weather conditions. Make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast before your flight and also if the aircraft you are opting for can handle any adverse conditions.

3. Qualifications Of The Crew

Before boarding a dead-leg private jet, make sure to check the experience of the crew and see if they are trained to carry out the flight operations safely. 

For this, you can check the crew’s qualifications before opting for a flight. 

Empty Leg Private Jet Trip(s): Summing It All Up

Overall, empty leg trips are well worth the “hassle” given the circumstances and the sense of convenience they bring in. 

In that regard, don’t forget to ensure that depending on your current travel situation and the availability of an empty leg trip, you have weighed the pros and cons way before in advance. After all, due diligence is what makes up for a delightful customer experience in the end.

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